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Jul 9, 2024

The Eastern American Puma is Officially Declared Extinct

 The US Fish and Wildlife Service has officially declared the eastern American puma (scientifically named puma concolor cougar) extinct, one of the mountain lion subspecies, after removing it from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife of extinction.

"We determined that the eastern puma has become extinct, based on the best scientific and commercial information available. This information does not show evidence of the existence of an existing breeding population or of individuals of the eastern puma subspecies, "the official said. "It is very unlikely that an eastern puma population will remain undetected since the last confirmed sighting in 1938. Therefore, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 we eliminated this subspecies from the federal list of endangered fauna and in Danger of extinction".

In 1973 the eastern puma of North America had been included in the list of endangered species, but in 2011 the US Fish and Wildlife Service opened an investigation into the status of this mountain lion. It was not until 2015 when experts concluded that there was no evidence that a living population of this feline remained, so that year the Federal Register published a request to exclude the animal from the list. Finally on January 23 the statement was issued where it was officially declared extinct.

Experts believe that the last population of eastern American cougars disappeared at the hands of hunters in the state of Maine in 1938. They were killed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and used to roam the forests, mountains and pastures in all US states east of Mississippi river, from Quebec (Canada) to South Carolina and from Manitoba (Canada) to Illinois. Its main prey used to be the white-tailed deer, but they also hunted eastern moose, now also extinct. In the eighty years that have passed since the last confirmed sighting, there have been some who claim to have seen them. But scientists say that it has probably been specimens from zoos and private collections.

Introduction of the western cougar and the Florida panther?

According to the Center for Biological Diversity of the United States, the unfortunate news issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, "paves the way for states like New York to reintroduce pumas of the extended and abundant western population".

"The Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that there are large and intact areas of habitat with adequate prey and little human disturbance that could support puma populations. The agency cited habitat in the Adirondacks, New England, the Great Lakes region and elsewhere in the Midwest, "said the conservation organization.
On the other hand, the Florida panther, a different subspecies of the puma, survives in a small, isolated and precarious population in the southernmost tip of the southernmost state of the United States. These animals were also once widespread on American soil, from their homonymous state north to Georgia and west to Arkansas and eastern Texas.

According to Michael Robinson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, "this bleak moment should push Governor Cuomo and other state leaders to bring back the pumas to help rebalance a disjointed world. The eastern states should move quickly to reintroduce these magnificent animals, which play such a critical role in the control of deer herds. "

The extermination of pumas, wolves and lynx led to the current overabundance of white-tailed deer and the associated decreases in the regrowth of trees, as well as the loss of vegetation cover necessary for birds that nest in the ground. Cougars could curb deer overpopulation and tick-borne diseases that threaten human health.
"We need big carnivores as cougars to keep the food web healthy, so we expect the eastern and midwestern states to reintroduce them," Robinson added.

The puma concolor couguar (or eastern puma) was a subgenus of the puma concolor, which was once the most widely distributed mammal in the entire American continent, inhabiting from the Yukon in Canada to the South American Patagonia. For this reason it is present in almost all pre-Columbian cultures, assigning each of them one or more names. The term puma comes from Quechua, in Mapudungun it is known as Pangi, while in Guaraní as Jagua Pytã. Other types of puma are the jaguarundi (or cat moro) and the extinct puma pardoides and puma pumoides.

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